Another case of medical overradiation reported in Missouri
Friday, February 26, 2010
Another report of patients being exposed to excessive radiation while undergoing medical procedures comes from CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo. In a news release, company officials say they discovered “76 patients who had received a very specific type of treatment…using its BrainLAB stereotactic radiation therapy system were accidentally exposed to radiation in amounts that exceeded the intended, therapeutic dose.” The patients’ exposure was, on average, 50 percent above the prescribed dose.
Senior vice president of hospital operations John Duff said he believes the overradiation was caused in 2004 when “the CoxHealth chief physicist responsible for initially measuring the strength of the radiation beam and gathering the data used to calibrate the equipment chose the wrong measurement device.” The error was discovered last September when a second physicist was being trained on the system.
CoxHealth president and CEO Robert Bezanson said the hospital reported the problem to the national hospital accreditation agency, but they weren’t required to do so. “There is no federal agency, nor is there any agency in the state of Missouri that requires reporting of radiation overexposure,” he said.
John Duff said he wants that to change: “We are going to reach out to the [U.S.] Food and Drug Administration, even though there is no one there to disclose to, offering our support of their initiatives to strengthen radiation reporting and safety. We also will attempt to work with our lawmakers and other hospitals that have been faced with similar situations to see how we can be a part of the solution to prevent this from happening to other hospitals and patients in the future.”
The New York Times reported:
The overdoses in Springfield echoed what occurred at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., where a similar commissioning error resulted in 77 brain cancer patients’ receiving 50 percent more radiation than prescribed in 2004 and 2005. The failure of medical facilities to properly commission new radiological equipment was cited as a concern last November by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.
An ongoing series from the Times, under lead reporter Walt Bogdanich, has put medical overradiation in the national spotlight.